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Reunion Brings Nurses From Far And Wide

March 14, 2008

Reunion Brings Nurses From Far And Wide

What started as a regular afternoon tea session for one group of 1940s registered nurses has spiralled into one of the biggest reunions of its type in Hamilton.

Tomorrow (Saturday March 15) 250 past and present nurses - including one from Australia - will arrive in droves for the Waikato Hospital graduate nurses reunion luncheon.

The reunion ends with a service at Waikato Hospital on Sunday where the 50th anniversary of the chapel will be commemorated.

The chapel's original stained glass windows, baptismal font and lectern remain, while the original altar donated by Elizabeth Rothwell, will be rededicated.

This weekend's reunion celebrates the avenues one's life can take when nursing is chosen as a career - both personally and professionally.

Health Waikato general manager Jan Adams, has been chosen as the perfect candidate to speak to the group about the high-powered occupations that nursing can inspire.

Mrs Adams started nursing in 1973 in the UK, having had no prior career plan, and quips, "I joined nursing when Florence left the wards".

Following many successes in the profession throughout the years, she today heads the one of Waikato's largest businesses - Health Waikato.

Health Waikato is Waikato District Health Board's provider arm, putting the 52-uear-old at the helm of five hospitals, two continuing care facilities, Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre, Community Services, Population Health Services, as well as estate, engineering and general support services.

The load would be more than enough for anyone to bear, but Mrs Adams says if anyone can do it - a nurse can.

"Nursing teaches you a lot of life skills. It's an amazing profession and one you have forever," she said.

Although it hasn't quite been forever, 34 years after joining the health sector, Adams remains a nurse nevertheless, working in the wards one fortnight per year to keep her registration valid.

"I still get the buzz I did all those years ago. It's an amazing community (the nursing community)."

She describes Waikato Hospital as a home away from home for its nurses.

"Nurses leave to go overseas or raise families and they come back. We welcome them back."

Four years into her nursing career, Mrs Adams became a registered general nurse and in 1980, at the age of 27, joined midwifery and worked as one of England's youngest assistant matrons.

Since moving to New Zealand in 1991, Mrs Adams has gradually progressed in her rankings, holding positions of principal nurse manager and director of nursing in various New Zealand hospitals, including Waikato.

She has been a ministerial appointee for the Nursing Council of New Zealand and was appointed by the Director General of Health as one of three members of the Inquiry into Neonatal Chest Physiotherapy Practices at National Women's Hospital.

But Mrs Adams says being a manager is a lot about common sense - something most nurses have in abundance.

Having flip-flopped between management and nursing for the latter part of her career, she maintains that nursing is her first love and says it's who she is.

"I felt so privileged to be asked to speak at the reunion because I respect all the people who will be there. They are all part of that same wonderful nursing community and should feel empowered by that."

She said health is an undersold profession for young people.

"It is a uniquely privileged industry to be a part of," she said.

"Where else can you play such an important role in people's lives on a daily basis?"

Mrs Adams will share her passion with 225 members of her 'community' from 10.30am on Saturday, March 15 at the Kingsgate Hotel on Garnett Ave, followed by a 10am service at Waikato Hospital nurses chapel.


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